Today In Books

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Book Riot Deals is sponsored today by The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty:


Unusual Suspects

Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2017!

Hello fellow mystery fans! It’s time for Best of lists. I personally love looking at those lists to see if my favorites made it and to find books (movies/shows/albums) that I may have missed. I had a great reading year for mysteries and am excited to share with you my nine Best Mysteries of 2017!

Sponsored by Home Sweet Home by April Smith, new in paperback from Vintage Books.

This riveting epic drama follows the Kusek family from New York City to America’s heartland, where their dream life turns into a nightmare, as they are caught up in the panic of McCarthyism, a smear campaign, a sensational trial, and, ultimately, murder. From the widely praised author of the FBI Special Agent Ana Grey series and A Star for Mrs. Blake.

bluebird bluebirdBluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke: Excellent mystery from beginning to end! Darren Mathews is a black Texas Ranger who (while technically on suspension) decides to solve the murder of a black man and a white woman in a small town where he is not welcome. This is the kind of mystery where the setting becomes a character in itself, the characters are alive from introduction, you’ll be feeling the Texas heat and thinking about this one long after you finish. Oh, and that ending!

The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) by Jane Harper: The first 2017 mystery I read and even then I said it would be on the Best of List. It is a solid from-beginning-to-end mystery that brings to life a struggling Australian small town desperate to hold on to its secrets–past and present. Aaron Falk returns to his hometown after the death of his childhood friend and family (in what appears to be a murder-suicide) but after being asked to investigate, Falk is forced to face the town’s current state of despair and also everything he ran away from years before: the death of a childhood friend and the questions he’s never answered…

A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock #2) by Sherry Thomas: I love this brilliant gender-swapped Sherlock and Watson series, and this book met my ridiculous excitement and expectations. Charlotte and Mrs. Watson are back with a rather delicate case involving a married woman looking to find a past lover–her true love. Scandalous! Making the case super-complicated is the fact that Charlotte knows both the woman’s husband and the true love. It’s packed with mysteries, ladies not here for society’s rules, improper flirting, learning to fight, and more!

What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney: Dark, crisp, brutal, and worth the nightmares it gave me! With the convicted serial killer on death row, how are there new victims? That’s what the journalist who broke the story and the mismatched detective partners from the case are trying to figure out, but it’s been seven years since they apprehended the serial killer and they’ve fallen quite far in their own personal lives since then. This was a page-turner with flawed characters that completely delivers for fans of dark thrillers and fictional serial killers.

The Dime by Kathleen KentThe Dime by Kathleen Kent: Detective Betty Rhyzyk is a hard-ass detective trying to balance her career, recent move to Texas, her personal relationship with her doctor girlfriend, and the ghosts of her past. While she may start out investigating a Mexican cartel in Texas, this takes some hard turns into different territory and leaves you with an ending you wouldn’t expect. Kent has written a brilliant detective with hard-edges and heart while striking the perfect balance of humor, violence, action, and procedural.

The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh: This one has an interesting premise: a tiny town made up of criminals and innocents (those who witnessed crimes/testified, etc.) who have had different degrees of their memories altered so that they just don’t remember the crime(s). Now that there’s been a suicide and a murder, does that mean the residents will always be who they were prior to their crimes/traumas being erased from their minds? Not only a solid and interesting mystery from beginning to end, but this had one of the best climactic scenes.

Overturned by Lamar Giles: A character I adored and an ending that stayed within the realm of possibility–be still my beating heart! Nikki Tate should only be focused on school (and being a teenager), but with her dad in prison she’s basically running the family business, playing in illegal card games, and trying to figure out what is going on between her mother and a man. Then her dad is exonerated and what should be a happy time only adds to the mystery of how he was sent to prison for something he didn’t do…

the good daughterThe Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter: I had to read this one with breaks because it was so intense in the trauma (all the trigger warnings) but it was so exceptional I couldn’t stay away from it. Almost thirty years after her family was violently attacked, Charlie, the youngest daughter, finds herself in another violent tragedy. Still living in the small town she grew up in, things take an even worse turn when her father decides to represent the person accused of the crime Charlie just witnessed. This event dredges up the trauma from Charlie’s childhood, and as much as she wants to forget it, she’s now about to relive it. The characters have so much depth, the mystery has plenty of twists, the lawyering scenes are excellent, and there are tiny bursts of humor throughout that perfectly deflate the tension, making clear Slaughter is a gifted writer.

Righteous (IQ #2) by Joe Ide: Ide brings to life the ethnically diverse community of East Long Beach without creating stereotypical caricatures, but rather by creating people with full backstories and lives in a crime novel where no one is necessarily all good, but everyone is human. Isaiah Quintabe (IQ) has his plate full: he’s trying to solve his brother’s hit-and-run; a childhood crush needs his services to help her sister in Las Vegas; he’s realized that he’s lonely and maybe he should try to work on getting along better with friends like Dodson–a not-always-happy-to-be-dragged-along side-kick of sorts; with his refusal to let things go he ends up in the crosshairs of multiple gangs. From East Long Beach to Vegas, strap in for a great ride!

I’d love to hear your best mystery picks! Find me under Jamie Canaves on Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy and tell me!

Browse all the books recommended in Unusual Suspects previous newsletters on this shelf. And if you like to put a pin in things here’s an Unusual Suspects board.

In The Club

In The Club Nov 29

Welcome back to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met and well-read. Let’s dive in.

The Hanging Girl by Eileen CookThis newsletter is sponsored by The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook.

Skye Thorn has given tarot card readings for years, and now her psychic visions are helping the police find the town’s missing golden girl, Paige Bonnet. Paige is everything Skye’s not— rich, pretty, and popular. But they’re both living a lie. A dark, rivet­ing mystery that questions just how far you’d be willing to go to become someone else.

Read and watch: The movie adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s Mudbound has been released on Netflix, and it’s an Oscar contender. The book is also much beloved among readers, so there’s no time like the present to add it to your group’s calendar.

Read and eat: Did you know there are cookbooks based on kids’ books? There are! Anne of Green Gables! Redwall! The Gruffalo! Why don’t I own all of these already?! Must acquire and have a tasting party ASAP.

A passel of mystery authors answered contributor Jamie’s “Little Q&A”, and the responses are both fun and informative. You might have read one of them in your group, or you might have read a bunch of mysteries — either way, worth the read!

Looking for diverse YA reads? Sharanya rounded up A WHOLE LOT (seriously, so many) of books with Asian-American protagonists, and it includes a bunch of personal favorites (shout-outs to Not Your Sidekick, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, Warcross, Want, Tiny Pretty Things, and Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel). I love discussing YA, since there are so many angles to think about them through. Did it reflect your own teenage experiences/emotions? How realistic did the dialogue feel? How much did it grab you, and if not why not?

Looking to dip into romance on the cheap? Here’s a list of places to look for free romance audiobooks, which is a great way to get into a genre you’re not familiar with OR supplement your current reading in it.

Armchair-travel to the Middle East: This list of must-reads set in the Middle East is from this summer, but it remains a good one — it includes novels, history, and contemporary nonfiction. Salt Houses and An Unnecessary Woman are both Book Riot favorites and would make great discussion fodder.

Need to decompress from family post-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas? Here’s a post about fictional families you would NOT want to spend the holidays with that cracked me up. Related, a thought for your December meet-ups: everyone come prepared with which fictional family your own family is most like, and why!

And that’s a wrap: Happy discussing! If you’re interested in more science fiction and fantasy talk, you can catch me and my co-host Sharifah on the SFF Yeah! podcast. For many many more book recommendations (including the occasional book club question!) you can find me on the Get Booked podcast with the inimitable Amanda.

Your fellow booknerd,

More Resources: 
– Our Book Group In A Box guide
– List your group on the Book Group Resources page

What's Up in YA

Must-See Movies For YA Fans: Lady Bird, My Friend Dahmer, and Adaptations on DVD/Blu-Ray

Good Monday, YA Lovers: let’s mix things up a bit and talk about movies today!

“What’s Up in YA?” is sponsored by Renegades by Marissa Meyer.

Secret Identities.

Extraordinary Powers.

She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone . . . except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to the villains who have the power to end them both.

Before diving into that, though, it’s time to announce the annual “What’s Up in YA?” reader favorites survey. Between now and December 13, drop your favorite 2017 YA book into this short survey. We’ll tally up the books brought up and share our reader favorites at the end of the month. The fine print is simple: the book has to have been originally published in 2017 and has to have been published for the YA reader. And because I love an underdog, in addition to sharing your favorite read of this year, let’s talk about the books we wish had seen more attention and deserve a little shout out. Click here to take part!

Have you been itching to do a little movie watching but are unsure what you should check out? Over the long holiday weekend, I took a few hours to catch up on some of the latest titles on the screen and found two which would make for excellent viewing for those who love YA.

Lady Bird, which currently has the highest positive review rating on Rotten Tomatoes ever, should be a must-see for those who love YA stories. The film, which isn’t about Lady Bird Johnson, but rather a 17-year-old teen girl who prefers to be called Lady Bird over her real name, is a coming-of-age that takes place over the course of a single year. Lady Bird hates living in Sacramento, and she hates being one of the poor kids. She and her best friend, both who attend a parochial school on scholarship, spend their days imagining what it must be like to be rich, and Lady Bird — unwilling to settle with a life in Sacramento after high school — dreams of heading to the East Coast and reinventing herself.

What sings in the movie, though, is the relationship Lady Bird has with her mother. Lady Bird, who is played by Saoirse Ronano, and Laurie Metcalf, who plays the mother, have it out time and time again with one another. As a viewer, we’re privy to both sides of the story: we know Lady Bird acts the way she does because she wants so much more for her life and feels confined and we know that her mother pushes back because she, too, wants so much more for her daughter and knows the sort of work it will take for her to reach those goals.

By turns funny and heartbreaking, Lady Bird is one of those movies that really shows the sorts of stories which can be told from a really simple concept. This one explores social class, it showcases family struggles, and though it’s not at the center of the story, race is explored through Lady Bird’s brother. There’s also powerful stuff here about ageism, particularly when it comes to Lady Bird’s dad losing his job and attempting to find a new career.

Another movie worth checking out, which perhaps hasn’t seen the same sort of publicity that Lady Bird has, is My Friend Dahmer. This is the adaptation of Derf Backderf’s graphic memoir of the same name. The book was named a 2013 Great Graphic Novel for Teens, as well as an Alex Award winner, which is given to books originally published for the adult market but with great appeal to YA readers.

Backderf’s story follows growing up with legendary serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. While the book focuses a bit more on the outsider perspective — it would, given that it’s about Backderf’s interactions with Dahmer — the film shifts slightly to give more time and attention to Dahmer. The focus is on Dahmer’s later years in high school, ending right before he pursues his first victim.

As viewers, we see a lot of the challenges Dahmer faced growing up, while also being shown the side of his story which isn’t sympathetic. Those who know the killer’s story know he was known for torturing animals, and the film doesn’t shy away from showing those things; that’s a warning for viewers, though much more is insinuated than given graphic representation.

My Friend Dahmer is an uncomfortable film, but that’s intentional. The look at Dahmer’s life in those late high school years is a look at the argument we’ll never have a resolution to: is it nature or nurture which causes a person to be who they are and do what they do?

Both Lady Bird and My Friend Dahmer are in theaters now. And if you haven’t read Backderf’s graphic memoir My Friend Dahmer, you should.


For those who want to do a little YA-friendly movie watching from the comforts of home, here’s a quick round-up of the YA adaptations and those films with huge YA appeal which have come out this year. You should be able to snag ‘em wherever you prefer to buy or borrow movies.

  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Slattery
  • Nerve by Jeanne Ryan
  • The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls


Thanks for hanging out this week. We’ll see you again next Monday, and in the meantime, don’t forget to drop your favorite 2017 reads into the survey!

–Kelly Jensen, @veronikellymars

The Stack


Today’s The Stack is sponsored by The Graphic Canon of Crime & Mystery, edited by Russ Kick from Seven Stories Press.

From James M. Cain to Stephen King, from Sophocles to the Marquis de Sade to Iceberg Slim, here are stunning and sometimes macabre visualizations of some of the greatest crime and mystery stories of all time. Rick Geary brings his crisp style to Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment; C. Frakes resurrects the forgotten novella “Talma Gordon,” the first mystery written by an African American. Crime finds new life in these graphic renditions of The Arabian Nights, the Bible, James Joyce’s Dubliners, Patricia Highsmith, and leading mystery writers of today like Jo Nesbø. Crime and mystery have never been so brilliantly reimagined.

Riot Rundown


Today’s Riot Rundown is sponsored by A Duke in Shining Armor, by Loretta Chase.

The seventh Duke of Ripley will never win prizes for virtue, but even he draws the line at running off with his best friend’s bride. All he’s trying to do is recapture the slightly inebriated Lady Olympia and return her to her bridegroom. The bookish and bespectacled Olympia is bent on getting away from her puzzling marriage to a rakish duke – but is even more puzzled when the world-famous hellion the Duke of Ripley is trying to do the honorable thing in returning her to her intended. Whatever his motivations, she has no intention of making this an easy chase…

Kissing Books

Royals, Rockstars, and Holiday Romances

How’s it going? Thanksgiving is over and now we can firmly settle into the winter holiday spirit. Do you read holiday romances? I haven’t read a lot, but the ones I have read have been enjoyable. And there are plenty that continue to be added to the list. I think the only ones I’m probably going to get to before the holidays are over are Lori Wilde’s Cowboy, It’s Cold Outside and story trio The Perfect Present. Maybe I’ll be able to sneak in The Trouble with Mistletoe before the movie premieres on PassionFlix. 

Sponsored by Ever After Box, a book box for romance readers

Ever After Box is a subscription book box for romance readers that delivers romantic reads and unique gifts centered around a fun theme each month. Each box contains at 1-2 print books, one or more ebook download plus 3-5 gift items. Items include exclusive designs, author merchandise, cool product finds and more. Check out our monthly plans and special packages at:

Currently ships to US and Canada only. Additional shipping charges apply for Canada.

Let’s start out with some stuff going on in the romance world!

Alyssa Cole’s A Hope Divided is out this week, and she told RT Book Reviews all about Civil War era medical science.

Alisha Rai + Shondaland = FIRE.

Publisher’s Weekly is also diving into the romance commentary. While it’s great that more publications are talking more about it, we have to ask: what’s the use? Maybe they’re saying something new to readers who don’t read or read about romance, but to us? The same song and dance with no new point of view. But they’re bringing three important topics to the eyes of people who don’t seek romance out, so more power to them.

Posted without comment.

Have you heard about Book+Main? I downloaded the app and did some messing around, but the jury is still out. I did have to turn off the notifications though; they got a little ridiculous.

The day the last KB went out, Sarah MacLean announced her favorites of 2017. I support her choices. Mostly.

Did you think we were done with A Gronking to Remember? Apparently not.

Did you like Ready Player One, but wished it were just more awesome? This new book is just what you asked for.

Have you checked out PassionFlix yet? See what some other love people have to say.


Okay, enough of that. Deals! (These are November deals so hop on them pretty much now.)

Five books for 3.99? If you like Coleen Coble and haven’t tried the Aloha Reef Collection, here’s your chance.

Heather Graham’s Come the Morning is 99c right now.

Secret Santa Baby by Robin Covington is free for the time being.

K.M. Jackson’s Romancing the Fashionista is 1.99.

Over on Book Riot

Did someone say free? Yes, please and thank you.

Know what’s better than a holiday romance? A holiday romance anthology. And we’ve got a few for you.

Thanksgiving may be over, but these are definitely families you want to hang out with year round. Also, there’s a bonus family in the comments! (Definitely checking that series out.)

Fantasy? Romance? Let’s put them together, shall we? (But I veto “romantasy” just out of principle. Please, can we not?)

I’m gonna try a thing. Are you planning any reading projects for next year?

Harry and Meghan: something out of a storybook, right? Well, here are some storybook romances for you, with royalty and everything.

Okay, recs!

A couple weeks ago, someone at BR started a conversation about active military and veterans in romance. From what we’d seen, there were more suspense thrillers with these leads than something less…stressful. I couldn’t think of any that I’d read that didn’t have at least one person actively trying to kill one of the protagonists.

And then lo-and-behold, there I was reading a couple of them.

When a Scot Ties the Knot
Tessa Dare

This book opens with the greatest letter montage in modern writing. Maddie has severe anxiety and can’t deal with crowds or people. So when her first season comes around, she invents a sweetheart, determined to avoid all of the people and confusions that comes with being out. She holds onto the pretension for years, writing the Scottish captain as he fights the French. Then, guilty and in need of forward motion, she kills him. Except.


That Scottish army captain? He totally exists. And now he’s discharged from the army with a ragtag group of soldiers, in need of a fresh start in a Scotland that’s been ravaged by English landowners. He’ll marry her, as long as he can set up on her land. What could go wrong, right?  

Hillbilly Rockstar
Lorelei James

Country music sensation Devin McClain has a problem. He could ignore the written threats and some of the weird things that have happened, but now, a threat had made its way into his private space. If his agent and tour promoters were insisting on him having a security detail, the least he could do is have a say. What he’s not expecting is for his severe, former military bodyguard to go all Miss Congeniality on him, especially if she’s going to be sharing the close quarters of a tourbus with him for the next four months. But as Devin and Liberty get to know each other, they can’t deny their chemistry. And even though Liberty knows getting involved with a client is the last thing she should be doing, what starts as regular sex to help with those post-show endorphins can easily turn into something else.

His Road Home
Anna Richland

So many people have told me to read this book, and I finally picked it up. I am so glad I did. It’s the best kind of punch to the heart; the story gives the warmest fuzzies at times while not holding back on some of the harder stuff. Reynaldo Cruz is a Special Forces soldier unsure what to do when an Afghan warlord offers him one of his daughters. When a friend saves him by claiming that he is already engaged, Rey has to get creative to show proof. When that creativity goes public thanks to an equally public act of heroism that leaves him with a career-ending suite of injuries, Grace Kim, his fake fiancee, enters his life. The two don’t get off on the best of feet, what with the whole act of deception that put them together. But when they start to get along, boy do they get along. I have to use that word that I love using with this one (cause it’s so effing true): this story is darling.

Also: while the author is (I believe) a white woman, she approaches having a Mexican-American hero and a Korean-American heroine in a respectful way. Okay, so his mom is an undocumented “tamale lady” and her parents own a Chinese restaurant, which is super stereotypical but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ it still didn’t feel like othering or punching down. You decide.

Currently Reading:

Lesson That Taught Love
GL Tomas

I’m only partway through this book, and it’s in severe need of a runthrough by a copyeditor, but the story is so compelling that I can’t bring myself to stop. I was first drawn to it by the cover. Do you see that cover? I have a thing for books that look like they’re going to have black cowgirls. Okay, so this one doesn’t have that, but I can still appreciate a good cover. So, the story. Beck and Kit are from a small town in the mining hills of Kentucky. Beck went away for college but came back when her mother got severely ill. Kit didn’t go to college; he joined the army instead. A career-ending head wound has left him with bad hearing and a traumatic brain injury, so he’s back in town to help his mother, who is afflicted with MS, and be the grown man no one in town knew him as when he was that stupid asshole football player who won hearts and stomped on them just as quickly. He might not be that boy anymore, but he’s got to convince Beck that he’s changed. But only after both of them deal with their own issues.

Okay. That’s a good number of books and career-ending injuries for now.

Finally, new and upcoming releases.

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole
A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase
Undercover Attraction by Katee Robert
Roomies by Christina Lauren (12/5)
Dance With Me by Alexis Daria (12/12)
It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian (12/12)

And holy mother, that’s plenty for the next couple weeks. Pardon me, I’m off to drown in amazing books until Christmas.

Catch me on Twitter @jessisreading or Instagram @jess_is_reading, or send me an email at if you’ve got feedback or just want to say hi!

New Books

30 Books from the Beginning of 2017 That Deserve Another Look

Hello again, book lovers! The pickings are getting mighty slim as far as new releases go, so I thought I’d do something fun and share 30 books that came out in early 2017 I thought deserve a second look. I tweeted these over the weekend, and thought they were worth collecting here. There might be a hidden gem that you missed! As far as new books out today, you can hear about several great books on this week’s episode of the All the Books! Amanda and I talked about a few amazing books we loved, including Djinn City, Weave a Circle Round, Oddity, and more.

Sponsored by Yellow Pear Press

the murderer's maidIn 1889, Bridget joins the Borden household as their maid, but something evil is brewing beneath the house’s genteel surface. In 2016, Brooke hides from her dangerous past and avoids making friends. But what if it’s time to stop running?

Bram Stoker Award finalist Erika Mailman brings the true story of the brutal murder of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother into new focus by adding a riveting contemporary narrative. Intelligent and detailed, The Murderer’s Maid is a gripping read from beginning to bloody conclusion.

idahoIdaho by Emily Ruskovich: Heartbreaking debut about marriage and loss in which a wife struggles to discover what happened during her husband’s first marriage – his first wife now in prison – before his memory fades completely.

The Girl in Green by Derek B. Miller: Two men are given a second chance to save a girl they couldn’t help 20 years earlier during the Gulf War. (But obviously it will be more complicated than that.) I already consider it a modern classic about war and redemption.

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin: A slim, bananapants book of what-the-effery that will take you out at the knees, and probably give you nightmares to boot. Purrrrrrrrr.

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran: Timely, compassionate novel about a woman whose son is removed from her care when she is placed in a detention center, and the woman who takes him in and fights to keep him.

Lightwood by Steph Post: Gritty Florida noir about a former inmate who returns to his violent rural hometown and tries to make good as chaos and crime swirl all around him.

cover of Six Wakes by Mur LaffertySix Wakes by Mur Lafferty: Space! Clones! A murder mystery! It’s up to newly-awakened clones to discover who is killing people aboard the ship before it becomes their *final* final frontier.

The Man Who Shot Out My Eye is Dead: Stories by Chanelle Benz: Arresting debut collection of stories, with characters throwing themselves headfirst into morally questionable situations with devastating effects.

The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers: A new bride is left alone to care for her infant son and the farm when her husband is called to fight in the Civil War. He returns two years later to find her in prison. What transpired while he was away? A fantastic debut.

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry: Okay, this one won the Costa, but I love it so much, I had to mention it. It’s about the horrors of war – a young Irish man and his bff enlist in the Civil War – but it’s also the sweetest love story I read this year.

The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams: Go outside. Right now.

Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz: Four lives from different backgrounds are swept up together in politics, betrayal, and broken dreams in Seoul, 1978.

the-dry-by-jane-harperThe Dry by Jane Harper: Two murder mysteries in one! A blisteringly wonderful (and slightly horrifying) story about a sheriff who returns to his hometown for the funeral of a friend accused of murder 20 years earlier. The sequel is just as good and out 2/6/18!

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt: Do you love Mary Roach, science, and the taste of human flesh? Or even 2 out of 3 of those things? Then you should read this book. It’s fascinating, and it’s a more realistic look at the future than The Road.

Abandon Me: Memoirs by Melissa Febos: A raw, unflinching exploration of identity and art. I am a sucker for a book that flays me open.

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez: Wildly imaginative tales of the dark and strange. (FYI: The fastest way to get me to read something is to get a blurb from Kelly Link.)

Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello: 16 wonderful essays about animals named and immortalized by humans. (+5 Prince lyric usage.)

Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith: After eleven years in prison, Russell wants to return home to start a quiet life. But it won’t be possible, with trouble finding him at every turn. A quietly powerful novel of regret and redemption.

harmless like youHarmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan: A beautiful debut set in Japan and NYC, about a young artist and the son she abandoned.

What You Don’t Know by JoAnn Chaney: A gripping psychological thriller about the people left behind in the aftermath of a serial killer. The first few pages stressed me out SO MUCH – it made me so happy. Perfect for true crime and Mindhunter fans.

Traveling with Ghosts: A Memoir by Shannon Leone Fowler: Heartbreaking story about the sudden death of Fowler’s fiancé, and how she worked out her grief through travel.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui: A beautifully illustrated memoir about Bui’s family’s escape from Vietnam, the difficulties they faced in a new country, and Bui’s experience as a parent herself.

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett: Precocious 10-y-o Elvis Babbitt attempts to navigate her place in the world as grief over the loss of her mother affects her and her father and sister in very different ways. Charming and sad.

Himself by Jess Kidd: I was completely enraptured by this whimsical – but dark – Irish mystery. Mrs. Cauley is one of the most kick-ass elderly women in literature.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil FerrisMy Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris: I am OBSESSED with this graphic novel about a young monster-loving girl in 1960s Chicago, who decides to be a detective and investigate her neighbor’s death. The artwork is like nothing else. Seriously.

All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg: This novel is so refreshingly honest. Life is messy and hard and sad, and the flaws in being human are translated beautifully through Andrea, the main character. Made me laugh and laugh and cry and cry.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti: A motherless young girl, who is moved from town to town by a father with a dark past, yearns to discover more about her mother and the stories behind the twelve scars on her father’s body.

Swimmer Among the Stars: Stories by Kanishk Tharoor: Utterly original tales, set all around the world in both the past and the present.

The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler: Brutal, insightful novel about fathers, bullying, toxic masculinity, war, and redemption. I found myself holding my breath at the end.

sorry to disrupt the peaceSorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell: A heart-wrenching, darkly comic story about a young woman who returns to her childhood home to figure out why her brother took his own life. GAH.

Wait Till You See Me Dance: Stories by Deb Olin Unferth: These 39 tales are profound, acerbic, and surprising, and most are nothing short of amazing. If you enjoy droll, smart fiction, this is the book for you.

That’s it for me today – time to get back to reading! If you want to learn more about books new and old (and see lots of pictures of my cats, Millay and Steinbeck), or tell me about books you’re reading, or books you think I should read (I HEART RECOMMENDATIONS!), you can find me on Twitter at MissLiberty, on Instagram at FranzenComesAlive, or Litsy under ‘Liberty’!

Stay rad,


Today In Books

Complicit Is Word of the Year: Today in Books Chooses Complicit As Word Of The Year

Here’s one for the word nerds. chose complicit as its Word of the Year–“a symbol of the year’s most meaningful events and lookup trends.” The site noted that the first spike in searches for complicit occurred the day after Saturday Night Live aired a skit where Scarlett Johansson played Ivanka Trump. In the satirical ad, Johansson was selling a perfume called Complicit. A second and larger spike occurred after an interview where Ivanka Trump stated: “If being complicit is wanting to be a force for good and to make a positive impact, then I’m complicit.” chose the word, in part, because of noteworthy stories of people who refused to be complicit in the face of oppression and wrongdoing.

Baltimore Cops Are Studying James Baldwin And Plato

In Baltimore, Detective Ed Gillespie is incorporating the Humanities into officer training. In his classes at the city police department’s in-service training facility, Gillespie teaches officers Plato, Steinbeck, Dostoevsky, and Baldwin. The detective’s methods include having his students discuss real stories of police misconduct in Platonic terms. Amidst calls for officer training on de-escalation and implicit bias following the death of Freddie Gray who suffered a fatal injury in the back of a Baltimore police van, Gillespie is trying to offer his students a way to ask questions about the human condition, themselves, and policing.

Rare 16th-Century Mesoamerican Codex Goes Online

The Library of Congress has made an extremely rare Mesoamerican manuscript available online. The Codex Quetzalecatzin (or the Aztec Codex) is one of the few surviving illustrated Mesoamerican manuscripts dating before 1600. Over at the Library of Congress site, you can take a look at the manuscript’s native Aztec and Nahuatl maps, hieroglyphs, illustrations, and more.


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